The NCAA has hired a law firm to conduct an independent gender equality review of its championships in all divisions of sports after the league faced backlash for the publicized differences between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
According to ESPN, the NCAA has hired Kaplan Hecker & Fink, a New York-based firm “which has significant experience in Title IX and gender equity issues, to evaluate our practices and policies and provide recommendations on steps we can take to get better.”
Last week, many players, former players and fans were upset after seeing the differences between the men’s and women’s weight rooms in their respective tournament bubbles.
The men’s weight room had rows of workout equipment and amenities for them to use, while the gym for the women’s basketball tournament in Texas had only one rack of dumbbells and a stack of yoga mats.
The NCAA also faced backlash for the disparities between the men’s and women’s swag bags and the food options that were given to the players. The male basketball players were given tons of merch in their swag bags, including a hat, soap, deodorant, Lysol wipes, a t-shirt, towel and more. However, the women’s swag bag included less than half of those items. They received a t-shirt, two water bottles, a pair of socks, a hair tie, a few toiletries, a hat and an umbrella.
“The NCAA will continue to address material and impactful differences between the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert in a statement. “While many of the operational issues identified have been resolved, we must continue to make sure we are doing all we can to support gender equity in sports. As part of this effort, we are evaluating the current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so we have a clear understanding of costs, spend and revenue.”
Emmert also said the law firm will help the league assess its championships “to identify any other gaps that need to be addressed, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to achieve gender equity.”